Renault Clio
(2012 - 2020)

  • RS models are superb to drive.
  • Even non-RS models are highly entertaining to drive.
  • Gorgeous styling.
  • Among the largest boot in its class.
  • Reliability and maintenance can be a nightmare on poorly maintained examples.
  • Expensive to repair and maintain in comparison to other equivalent cars.
  • Cup holders are quite small.
  • The lack of a manual option in the RS is still disappointing.
Overview

Like its big brother Megane, Renault’s Clio city car has long been the darling of Aussie drawn to French flair and a fun driving experience but has never enjoyed anywhere near the popularity locally as it as in Europe, let alone its native France. But it fourth generation, debuting in 2012 if hitting Australian showrooms in September 2013, built on a groundswell of interest for the nameplate anchored off the popularity of the go-fast RS version much loved by petrolheads after a fit on a relative budget.

‘Clio 4’ was bigger than its gen-three forebear, a growth spurt added by its long wheelbase improving roominess and boot space (300 litres). Renault also ditched time-honoured three-door option that somewhat compromised packaging, its novel five-door-only body offering practicality while embodying clever and fetching styling that appeared to have two fewer doors, with the rear door handles hidden in the C pillars.

Initially, the line-up tipped in with the Authentique manual, powered by a modest 900cc turbo three pot of 66kW and 135Nm and offering few frills but, clocking in at under $17k, it was chips-cheap to buy and run – 4.5L/100kms – and brought a heap of charm to the bargain. The Dynamique was the staple mid-ranger, bringing an 88kW and 190Nm 1.2-litre turbo four backed by a six-speed dual-clutch auto shoehorned into a well-appointed package – semi-digital instruments, sat-nav – for its handy sub-$25k ask. In 2014, an affordable Expression version would split the difference between two established variants in both 0.9L man ($18k-ish) and 1.2 auto ($20k-ish) formats.

But most of the buyer and critically acclaimed media attention focused on the RS (Renault Sport) stuff. The halo versions’ importance appeared in the numbers: four different Clio RSs were offered, the tree-topping Cup Trophy Auto, at just under $37k, over twice the price of the entry Clio.

Clio RS’s linage, reaching back to the Renault 5 Alpine of the ’70s, is a rich one, and the third generation to wear the RS badging flaunted tradition by offering a newfound level of smarts to what’s traditionally been a fairly tech-humble hot hatch format.

Controversially, no manual was offered. Instead, the French-built ‘200 EDC’ quartet brought 147kW (200 horsepower, hence the name) and 240Nm exclusively via a sport dual-clutch gearbox in a body-kitted and big-wheeled package offering launch control, an electronic LSD, big brakes (pinched from Laguna V6 sedan), multi-downshift functionality, ‘R Link’ track day data logging, some Nissan GT-R parts binning (shifters) and fancy hydraulic bump suspension. It’s certainly some piece of fun kit.

Performance was 6.7 seconds for 0-100kmh, but the real party trick was in dynamics. Buyers could get the feisty Sport ride and handling tune or a lower-sat, 20-percent stiffer Cup chassis with specific damper settings. For the die-hards and completists, fancier Trophy versions were offered above the standard-tier Sport and Cup.

Buyers up for a bit of driving enjoyment without the RS excess could, from 2014, opt for a Clio GT, offered in regular ($25k-ish) or leather-dipped Premium ($28k-ish) guises, pairing the 88kW/190Nm 1.2 engine with a specifically sporty handling package and a decent standard equipment fit-out.

A face-lift arrived in 2017, complete with fresh variants nameplates in the low-spec Life ($19k), nicer Zen ($21k) and mid-spec Intens ($23k) trims, all of them 1.2L autos. But the big news for gearheads was the arrival of a more powerful ‘220’ RS Trophy, plying 162kW and 280Nm from the familiar 1.6T while prying $39k from the hip pockets of buyers. The regular RS 200 continued alongside the range-topper in Sport, Sport Premium and Cup forms.

In 2019, Renault debuted its fifth-generation Clio replacement. But Renault Australia’s decision to ditch the compact hatchback from local showrooms means that the Clio nameplate is now on hiatus Down Under. And perhaps permanently.

Ads goes here
What goes wrong
  • There are quite a few reports that Clios fitted with a sunroof can leak. This can lead to water damage and electrical issues in the long term plus even on models that don’t leak, there are reports that the sunroof can become very rattly.
  • There are reports of brake lights staying on due to the circuits melting.
  • There are quite a few reports of noises from the wheels, usually a rumbling sound caused by faulty wheel bearings.
  • In 2020 recalls were issued for models between 2014-2015 due to faulty windscreen wiper motors. Our research actually found that the problematic wiper motor issue can extend to all 4th generation Clios
  • There was also a recall due to the improper fitting of rear spoiler. At speed the spoiler can detach.
  • There are reports that the infotainment system can become very slow or not responsive or in the worst case just fail. This occurs especially in Clio’s fitted with R-Link.
  • There are numerous reports of various electronic gremlins effecting the interior, for example, there are quite a few reports that the fuel gauge can be faulty. It can lower from full to half way correctly, then it pauses at half way while the Clio runs out of fuel, only dropping to empty once the car has completely run out of fuel, potentially leaving the occupants stranded.
  • Many owners have mentioned that the HVAC vents are quite fragile and the flaps have broken easily as the plastic becomes brittle with age.
  • Owners of the more firmly sprung (RS) models are reporting that the interior can become very rattly.
  • Mechanically while there isn’t one particular issue that this generation of Clio can suffer from, there are a number of issues that are known to occur.
  • There are various reports of oil leaks, engine bay plastic failures, turbo issues, electronic gremlins, hot and cold side boost pipes are known to crack, early models can be prone to blowing the control unit of the gearbox and the clutch packs can wear out if launch control has been used too frequently. There are some reports of timing chain problems but that seems to be connected to poor servicing more than a manufacturer problem. There are also the odd examples of coil pack failure and coolant leaks.
  • Probably the biggest potential problem (especially with the RS models) may be surrounding the transmission. In general all modern double-clutch gearboxes tend to work hard and there are lots of moving parts and add in the fact that they (not on Renault units) don’t have the greatest reputation for reliability or longevity and we’d highly recommend having the transmission independently tested before purchasing the car in question.
Model range, pricing & features

Authentique

  • Price when new: $16,790 - $18,000
  • Price used: $7,000 - $15,000

The base Authentique model was introduced in 2012 and was available with a 898cc 3-cylinder turbocharged engine, coupled to a 5-speed manual transmission.

This model was replaced by the Life model with the introduction of the Phase II series (released in August 2016).

Standard features:

Energy Smart Management
ECO mode
16-inch alloy wheels
Rear parking sensors
Automatic dusk sensing headlights
Rain sensing wipers
Rear view camera
Push button start
Leather wrapped steering wheel
Electric mirrors – heated
Electric windows – front and rear with driver auto up/down
4-speaker sound system
7-inch touchscreen infotainment system

Life

  • Price when new: $16,490 - $18,990
  • Price used: $12,000 - $20,000

The Life was introduced as part of the Phase II update to the Clio model in August 2016.

The base Life model added additional features as part of the update centred around fuel economy and comfort/convenience such as rain sensing wipers, heated electric mirrors and front and rear electric windows (Authentique had front electric windows).

In addition to the Authentique:

Energy Smart Management
ECO mode
16-inch alloy wheels
Rear parking sensors
Automatic dusk sensing headlights
Rain sensing wipers
Rear view camera
Push button start
Leather wrapped steering wheel
Electric mirrors – heated
Electric windows – front and rear with driver auto up/down
4-speaker sound system
7-inch touchscreen infotainment system

Formula Edition

  • Price when new: $18,990
  • Price used: $16,000 - $25,000

Introduced around April 2019, the Formula Edition was quietly introduced as a special edition model offering additional features at the Life’s drive-away pricing of $18,990.

The main addition was a new infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

In addition to the Life:

17-inch alloy wheels
“Formula Edition” decals
7-inch touchscreen infotainment system
Satellite navigation
Apple CarPlay
Android Auto

Expression

  • Price when new: $17,790 - $21,500
  • Price used: $9,000 - $19,000

The Expression added alloy wheels, gloss black interior trim, leather wrapped steering wheel/gear knob and a 4-speaker sound system on top of the base Authentique.

The Expression model was phased out in August 2016.

In addition to the Authentique:

16-inch alloy wheels
Body coloured door handles
Chrome radiator grille trim
Front and rear fog lights
Gloss black interior trim
Leather wrapped steering wheel
Leather gear knob
4-speaker Arkamys audio system

Expression+

  • Price when new: $21,390
  • Price used: $10,000 - $15,000

The Expression+ was a special edition model, limited to 100 units across Australia and added cosmetic and comfort features to the Expression model of which it was based on.

In addition to the Expression:

Roof decals (choice of sports, dots or tri-colour)
Automatic dusk sensing headlights
Rain sensing wipers
Electric folding mirrors
Electric windows – front and rear with driver auto/up down
Keyless entry
Push button start
Front seat armrest
Floor mats

Zen

  • Price when new: $19,990 - $20,990
  • Price used: $14,000 - $20,000

With the introduction of the Phase II update, the Expression model was phased out and replaced with the Zen model.

In addition to the Expression’s features, the Zen added LED headlights, front fog lights, front parking sensors, 6-speaker sound system and satellite navigation.

In addition to the Life:

“Pure Vision” C-shaped LED headlights
Front fog lights
Front parking sensors
6-speaker sound system
Satellite navigation
Voice recognition/control

Dynamique

  • Price when new: $23,290 - $25,000
  • Price used: $13,000 - $18,000

The Dynamique model adds comfort and convenience features to the Expression model including: rear privacy glass, automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers, front and rear electric windows, keyless entry, push button start and climate control air conditioning.

The Dynamique model was phased out in August 2016.

In addition to the Expression:

Rear privacy glass
Automatic dusk sensing headlights
Front and rear fog lights
Rear view camera
Rain sensing wipers
Keyless entry
Push button start
Climate control air conditioning
Electric windows – front and rear with driver auto/up down
Gloss black interior trim

Intens

  • Price when new: $22,990 - $23,990
  • Price used: $13,000 - $25,000

The Intens model was introduced to replace the Dynamique model with the Phase II update.

On top of the features found in the Dynamique model, the Intens also added 17-inch alloy wheels, hands free parking, electrochromatic rear view mirror, 6-speaker sound system and Android Auto (from April 2017).

In addition to the Zen:

17-inch alloy wheels
Hands free parking
Electrochromatic rear view mirror
Driver’s armrest with storage compartment
Velvet/leatherette upholstery
Sort-touch dark carbon trim
6-speaker 3D Arkamys auditorium sound system
Satellite navigation

April 2017 Updates:
Android Auto

GT

  • Price when new: $25,290 - $26,500
  • Price used: $11,000 - $18,000

The GT model is a sports orientated model of the Clio, adds on features from the Expression with GT specific chassis setup, 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, paddle shifters and GT sports seats. Note the GT only features rear fog lights (no front fog lights).

For the Phase II update, the GT and GT Premium were condensed into one model, the GT-Line.

In addition to the Dynamique:

GT-chassis
17-inch alloy wheels
Black radiator grille trim
Rear fog lights only
R.S Drive with normal and sport mode
Rear parking sensors
Paddle shifters
Satin grey interior trim
GT sport seats

GT Premium

  • Price when new: $28,790 - $30,000
  • Price used: $13,500 - $21,000

The GT Premium is the top-of-the range sports-luxury model, with additional sports and luxury orientated features of the GT model such as Renault Sport rear spoiler, sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a 7-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation.

For the Phase II update, the GT and GT Premium were condensed into one model, the GT-Line.

In addition to the GT:

Renault Sport rear spoiler
Sunroof
Rear fog lights only
Rear view camera
Leather upholstery
Heated front seats
6-speaker Arkamys audio system with 3D sound
7-inch infotainment system
Satellite navigation
Voice recognition/control
R-Sound

GT-Line

  • Price when new: $22,990 - $23,490
  • Price used: $15,500 - $22,000

The GT Line was introduced with the Phase II updates and features sporty and luxury orientated features on top of the Zen model including 17-inch alloy wheels, Renault Sport rear spoiler, leather wrapped handbrake, alloy sport pedals, 6-speaker sound system and satellite navigation.

Some features such as heated front seats and leather upholstery had been removed from the packaging of the GT-Line (previously available on the GT Premium model) and were now optional extras.

April 2017 also brought Android Auto.

In addition to the GT Premium:

17-inch alloy wheels
Renault Sport rear spoiler
Hands free parking
Leather wrapped handbrake
Alloy sport pedals
Electrochromatic rear view mirror
Sort-touch dark carbon trim
6-speaker 3D Arkamys auditorium sound system
Satellite navigation
R-Sound

April 2017 Updates:
Android Auto

R.S. 200 Sport

  • Price when new: $28,790 - $30,990
  • Price used: $13,000 - $25,000

The R.S. 200 Sport is the base model in the R.S range, and loosely build on the features packaged in the Expression model on the normal Clio range, adding on a sport chassis, R.S. Drive, 17-inch alloy wheels, Renault Sport rear spoiler and additional comfort features such as keyless entry, heated electric mirrors and front and rear electric windows; with the main addition being the 1.6 litre 4-cylinder engine with a 6-speed dual clutch transmission.

The Phase II update in August 2016 added LED lights, front fog lights, front parking sensors, tyre pressure warning system, DAB digital warning and climate control.

In addition to the Expression/Zen:

Sport chassis
R.S Drive with three modes – Normal, Sport or Race
R.S electronic differential
17-inch alloy wheels
Renault Sport rear spoiler
Body coloured front bumper with F1 style blade
Renault Sport badging
R.S badging
Gloss black door mirrors
Black surrounds on front headlights
Rear privacy glass
Gloss black centre console
Carbon dashboard with Renault Sport logo
Satin red interior trim
Red seatbelts
Alloy sport pedals
Leather wrapped handbrake with red stitching
Paddle shifters
Launch control
Gear shift indicator
Electric mirrors – heated
Electric windows – front and rear with driver auto/up down
Automatic dusk sensing headlights
Rain sensing wipers
Keyless entry
Push button start
4-speaker Arkamys sound system
7-inch infotainment system
Satellite navigation

X98.Phase II Updates (August 2016):
Redesigned front bumper
“R.S Vision” LED lighting signature design
Front fog lights
Front parking sensors
Tyre pressure warning system
DAB digital radio
Climate control air conditioning

R.S. 200 Cup

  • Price when new: $31,290 - $33,000
  • Price used: $21,000 - $28,000

The R.S. 200 Cup adds the cup chassis, 18-inch alloy wheels and front and rear red brake calipers to the R.S. package.

In addition to the R.S 200 Sport:

Cup chassis
18-inch alloy wheels
Front and rear red brake calipers

X98.Phase II Updates (August 2016):
Redesigned front bumper
“R.S Vision” LED lighting signature design
Front fog lights
Front parking sensors
Tyre pressure warning system
DAB digital radio
Climate control air conditioning

R.S. 200 Monaco GP

  • Price when new: $38,290
  • Price used: $25,000 - $31,000

The R.S. Monaco GP was a special edition model limited to 55 units in Australia.

It came in one colour, with spec and features mirroring the R.S. 200 Cup model plus a rear diffuser, “Monaco GP” badging, different interior trim and heated front seats.

In addition to the R.S 200 Cup:

Pearl White colour with contrasting Diamond Black roof
Gloss black front splitter
Rear diffuser
“Monaco GP” badging
“Riveria carbon” leather upholstery
“Dark Metal decorative signatures” for steering wheel, gear lever knob and gaiter, steering wheel boss and loudspeaker surrounds
Heated front seats

R.S. 200 Sport Trophy/Premium

  • Price when new: $34,290 - $35,000
  • Price used: $15,000 - $25,000

The R.S. 200 Sport Trophy and Sport Premium were models that offered additional luxury and comfort features on top of the R.S. 200 Sport model.

The model was discontinued with the Phase II updates in August 2016.

In addition to the R.S 200 Sport:

Renault Sport dark carbon leather upholstery with red stitching
R.S logo on embossed on front headrests
Heated front seats
Climate control air conditioning
Rear view camera
6-speaker Arkamys audio system with 3D sound
Voice recognition/control
R-Sound
Back seat pockets

R.S. 200 Cup Trophy/Premium

  • Price when new: $36,790 - $38,000
  • Price used: $14,000 - $26,000

The R.S. 200 Cup Trophy and Cup Premium added additional luxury and comfort features to the Cup model, with the Cup chassis and enhancements.

The model was discontinued with the Phase II updates in August 2016.

In addition to the R.S 200 Cup:

Trophy chassis
Revised engine mapping
Recalibrated EDC transmission for 50% faster shifts
Lowered suspension (20mm at the front and 10mm at the rear)
18-inch diamond cut alloy wheels
Satin grey front blade with Trophy lettering
Carbon fibre effect interior trim
Trophy logo on embossed on front headrests
No height adjustable front headrests

X98.Phase II Updates (October 2017):
Akrapovic exhaust system
7-speaker Bose premium sound system

R.S. 220 Trophy

  • Price when new: $38,990 - $39,990
  • Price used: $18,000 - $34,000

Introduced in December 2015, and initially limited to 220 units, the R.S. 220 Trophy featured a more powerful 1.6 litre 4-cylinder engine and stiffened/lowered mechanicals (such as lowered suspension and recalibrated EDC transmission).

Furthermore, the 220 Trophy model featured 18-inch alloy wheels, carbon fibre effect interior trim and embossed “Trophy” logo on the front headrests.

The model soldout, but with the Phase II update, the model made a return in October 2017, and added the Phase II update found on the R.S. 200 Sport, plus an Akrapovic sports exhaust system and a 7-speaker Bose sound system.

In addition to the R.S 200 Cup:

Trophy chassis
Revised engine mapping
Recalibrated EDC transmission for 50% faster shifts
Lowered suspension (20mm at the front and 10mm at the rear)
18-inch diamond cut alloy wheels
Satin grey front blade with Trophy lettering
Carbon fibre effect interior trim
Trophy logo on embossed on front headrests
No height adjustable front headrests

X98.Phase II Updates (October 2017):
Akrapovic exhaust system
7-speaker Bose premium sound system

R.S. 18

  • Price when new: $39,990
  • Price used: $26,000 - $36,000

Named after the Renault Sport Formula One Team’s 2018 car, the R.S. 18 was an exclusive run of 10 vehicles shipped to Australia offering additional luxury/race orientated features, and based off the R.S. 220 Trophy model.

In addition to the R.S. 200 Trophy:

Deep black paint finish
Liquid yello highlights (for front blade, side mouldings and wheel centre caps)
“R.S 18” badging
Alcantara/leather-trimmed steering wheel
Carbon fibre-effect air vent surrounds
“Renault Sport” carpet mats

Should you buy it?

It depends on which Clio and who you’re buying it from.

When talking non RS Clio’s, for what they’re asking on the used market, there are other alternatives that come with a far better and proven reliability record, that offer an equivalent driving experience and may not offer the same levels of “Euro cool”, but if a budget hatch is what you require, maybe it’s best to look past the image and focus on the realities that, the generally lower maintenance and running costs, and superior resale value of Japanese and South Korean hatchbacks, will do more for you in the long term than this sexy little French option.

In terms of the RS models, should you buy one of these? Well that all comes down to who owned it before you.

There is no denying the Clio RS models, all of them, even when used are fantastic to drive and Renault Sport time and time again seem to set the standard for hot hatches.

But because of how great these are to drive, and thanks to the generation 4 has appealed to a wider demographic, many owners have proven that some people just shouldn’t have nice things.

A faultless and thorough service history is absolutely vital as these engines work their lubricating oil quite hard and whatever you do, make sure you have an experienced mechanic go over the whole car for a pre-purchase inspection before you hand over your cash.

Plus various Clio RS models are commonly seen hammering around race circuits at track days and even though these cars may have been maintained well, a car that has been used on track with such enthusiasm is probably best avoided for most used buyers.

Unless that is you’re buying one as a track hack yourself, if you see any signs that it has seen a race circuit or two, like maybe on the owners social media accounts, avoid it.

The Clio is an incredibly enjoyable car and the one to get is an RS 220 Trophy, but unfortunately, Clio’s can become fragile in the wrong hands and it’s up to you if you want to take that risk.

Overall, because finding a good one relies on so many variables, sorry but we’d recommend going with something more logical and sensible, that is unless you’re happy to take the risk and can afford to throw money at one.

In that case, sure, buy one.

Warranty & servicing

Warranty:

3 years/100,000km

Servicing:

12 months/15,000km

Tech specs

Body Style:

5 door hatchback

Engines:

898cc 3-cylinder turbo petrol (Authentique, Life, Expression)
1.2 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol (Life, Expression, Zen, Dynamique, Intents, GT, GT Premium, GT-Line)
1.6 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol (R.S. 200 Sport, R.S. 200 Cup, R.S. 200 Sport Trophy, R.S. 200 Sport Premium, R.S. 200 Cup Trophy, R.S. 200 Cup Premium, R.S. 220 Trophy, R.S. 18)

Power:

66kW (898cc 3-cylinder turbo petrol)
88kW (1.2 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol)
147kW (1.6 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol)
162kW (1.6 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol) – R.S. 220 Trophy and R.S. 18 only

Torque:

135Nm (898cc 3-cylinder turbo petrol)
190Nm (1.2 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol)
240Nm (1.6 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol)
260Nm (1.6 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol) – R.S. 220 Trophy and R.S. 18 only

Transmission & drivetrains:

5-speed manual Authentique, Life, Expression), front-wheel drive
6-speed dual clutch automatic (Life, Formula Edition, Expression, Zen, Dynamique, Intents, GT, GT Premium, GT-Line, R.S. 200 Sport, R.S. 200 Cup, R.S. 200 Sport Trophy, R.S. 200 Sport Premium, R.S. 200 Cup Trophy, R.S. 200 Cup Premium, R.S. 220 Trophy, R.S. 18), front-wheel drive

Fuel Consumption:

4.5 – 6.3L/100km (depending on engine and variant)

Length:

4063mm (Clio)
4090mm (Clio R.S.)

Width:

1945mm

Height:

1448mm

Kerb Weight:

1019 – 1270kg (depending on engine and model)

Towing braked/unbraked:

900kg/575kg (898cc 3-cylinder turbo petrol)
900kg/625kg (1.2 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol)
Towing not recommended (1.6 litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol)

Boot volume:

300L / 1146L (seats folded down and up to the ceiling)

Disclaimer

Information correct as of March 11, 2022.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

Read our full terms and conditions here.